The Auckland Tuatara shook off a slow start to power past the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets 87-59 at Eventfinda Stadium on Monday afternoon.
The Jets jumped out to an early 9-4 lead on the back of five Tuatara turnovers, but Auckland settled in and claimed a 16-14 lead after the first quarter thanks to a monster putback dunk by Chris Johnson to beat the buzzer. Johnson had his way with the Jets in the first half, totaling nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
The Tuatara put their foot down in the second quarter, outscoring the Jets 18-9 to give themselves a 34-23 halftime lead. All five starters for the Tuatara scored at least four points in the first half, while the Jets managed just three 3-pointers in the second quarter and turnovers hampered any inroads they were wanting to make.
The Jets really struggled to score in this one, with fatigue from a game the day before one issue, but the Tuatara defence has been the best in the league to this point and they showed why this afternoon. Auckland looked to run as soon as the Jets turned the ball over or missed a shot, and the Jets just couldn't keep up.
The dominant tandem of Johnson and Rob Loe were able to get to their spots offensively and patrolled the paint all game long with a combined blocks five blocks. Johnson and Loe would both post double-doubles in the victory and barely played in the fourth quarter thanks to the lopsided margin.
The Tuatara will be right back at it on Friday against the Taranaki Airs.
SCORE: Tuatara 87, Jets 59
Tuatara: Johnson 15 PTS, 12 REB, 4 BLK | Loe 12 PTS, 14 REB | Russo-Nance 17 PTS, 5 REB, 3 STL
Jets: Crawford 19 PTS | Temara 11 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Chris Johnson (Tuatara) - 10 votes
Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 7 votes
Dontae Russo-Nance (Tuatara) - 6 votes
Rob Crawford (Jets) - 4 votes
Shane Temara (Jets) - 2 votes
Tuatara – June 10 @ Taranaki Airs
Jets – June 12 vs. Auckland Tuatara